Last week, new gate screening measures were enacted at the entry points to West Point aimed at containing the spread of COVID-19.
As of Tuesday morning, there were already more than 25,000 confirmed cases in New York with most of them within an hour of West Point in New York City. To protect the families living on post and the workforce commuting in daily, everyone entering post will now have their temperature checked and be required to answer a series of questions to determine whether they should be allowed to freely enter or be placed into quarantine.
To help facilitate the screenings, Washington Gate has temporarily been closed and all traffic must enter through either Thayer or Stony Lonesome gates.
Following long lines at the gates during the first two days of implementation, it was announced Monday that on weekdays between 7-8 a.m. gate access would be restricted to mission essential and emergency operations center personnel.
Families who lives on post and all other employees are required to enter post before 7 a.m. or after 8 a.m.
“We’ve seen lessons learned out of both Korea and Italy that have seen tremendous density of cases of COVID-19,” Lt. Col. Brian Heverly, West Point director of emergency services, said. “The installations in those areas have instituted these types of changes and screenings and have been wildly successful in not only keeping COVID-19 off the installation, but also identifying those who are either at a higher risk or who have COVID-19 and then putting them in a medical care.”
As people arrive at the gates, before they have their ID cards scanned, they will be asked a series of questions including whether they have traveled overseas in the last 14 days, have any COVID-19 symptoms such as a cough or fever and whether they have had contact with someone who has tested positive for the virus. Their temperatures will also be checked using a forehead thermometer.
If the screener clears them based on their temperature and answers, they will be allowed to enter post freely. If any part of the screening raises a red flag, they will be directed to a secondary screening area at Stony Lonesome Gate to undergo a more detailed interview conducted by a medic.
“The medic also will conduct a similar review and based upon the best practice algorithm be able to determine if a person should be released about their day, placed on home quarantine or recommended for further evaluation at Keller Army Community Hospital by a physician,” Maj. Michael Donohue, M.D., a physician at Keller, said.
The screenings the first couple days were handled entirely by garrison Soldiers but starting this week departments from throughout West Point and the U.S. Military Academy will be supplying personnel to alleviate the stress on the military police.
Screeners are required to wear gloves and have been provided with optional masks and disposable smocks by Keller. The temperature monitors are also being disinfected with alcohol swaps between each use to protect the community and the screeners.
“I’d like to ensure the public as they come to the gates that we are taking all the appropriate measures as dictated by medical professionals to keep not only themselves safe but also ourselves safe as workers,” Heverly said. “When you see them wiping off the temperature monitors with alcohol pads or using the black covers, just know that we’re taking all the precautions to keep them safe, as well as to keep ourselves safe.”